“we refuse to sacrifice any amount of our queerness in order to gain acceptance”
This weekend I’m at the Pride in Des Moines, Iowa. Today it was about 90 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. In addition, the Comey trial, the terrible events in Chechnya, and the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting are at the forefront of the minds of everyone here. It is difficult but necessary to be proud for multiple reasons.
First, the heat in itself presents quite a few logistical challenges. Many people overcome this by foregoing a shirt in favor of a bra, pasties, or nothing. (During my eight hours, I started in a shirt and ended in a sports bra, sorry mom.) The nature of Pride events is an incredibly nonjudgemental atmosphere, thus all sorts of outfits are seen, including kink outfits. Trust me, people in the LGBTQ+ community spend enough of our time being ostracized that we generally try to avoid excluding or judging others. Still, no matter how oppressive the heat became, people still came out to celebrate their pride. (A metaphor, if you will.)
As far as modern politics are concerned, I’ll only delve far enough into the Comey trial to say that while I definitely think Trump is unfit to be the POTUS and has broken several laws, the prospect of a Pence presidency is equally terrifying. We’re in some sick catch-22 of awful president options and we just need Major Major Major Major to launch us into a war (not really, please don’t let anyone start a war, I’m anti-war). Really though, either we have a criminal man-child who is grossly unqualified and hell-bent on erasing Obama’s legacy of progress or some sort of Bond super villain with a special hatred for women and the LGBTQ+ community. Either way, absolutely no one wins. Sure, the quotes from the trial are hilarious, but we’re all laughing uncomfortably and in fear for our lives.
These combined with the horrors happening in Chechnya (gay men being hunted and slaughtered) and the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando (in which a gay bar was targeted in a terrorist attack) put a pretty somber mood on Pride month. Plus, Kenne McFadden, a trans person of color, was just murdered, adding to the more than ten this year. The country and world are still not great places for queer people on the whole. To be honest, they’re pretty terrible. We face higher rates of violence and murder than straight people, especially from governments, we’re constantly discriminated against, and yet we will still continue to be visible.
In a sense, that’s what Pride Month is about. We understand and recognize that the world is a more difficult place to live in if you’re queer. We remember those who were martyred for being out and fighting for rights (in case you’re wondering, June is Pride Month because the riots at Stonewall by drag queens against police brutality occurred in June 1969). We celebrate our identity, our past, and we declare in our visibility and our existence that we are going nowhere and we cannot be scared into silence. In times of strife, this visibility and openness becomes necessary to our survival, as we cannot live in fear or silence.
I’ve already discussed to some extent why being proud is so important in today’s world, but it’s also important to fight against marginalization in all of its manifestations. This is why we wear pasties and rainbow tails and tight clothes normally thought of to be another gender’s. This is why drag queens have always been so important. This is why we gather in spaces in solidarity with each other. In the age of respectability politics, we refuse to sacrifice any amount of our queerness in order to gain acceptance. We will be loved and appreciated for who we are, and nothing less.